The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness eBook

Thomas Guthrie Marquis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 85 pages of information about The Jesuit Missions .

The Jesuits had sailed from Dieppe on the 26th of April in company with a Recollet friar, La Roche de Daillon, of whom we shall presently hear more.  The voyage across the stormy Atlantic had been long and tedious.  On a vessel belonging to Huguenots, the priests had been exposed to the sneers and gibes of crew and traders.  It was the viceroy of New France, the Duc de Ventadour, a devout Catholic, who had compelled the Huguenot traders to give passage to these priests, or they would not have been permitted on board the ship.  Much better could the Huguenots tolerate the humble, mendicant Recollets than the Jesuits, aggressive and powerful, uncompromising opponents of Calvinism.

As the anchor dropped, the Jesuits made preparations to land; but they were to meet with a temporary disappointment.  Champlain was absent in France, and Emery de Caen said that he had received no instructions from the viceroy to admit them to the colony.  Moreover, they were told that there was no room for them in the habitation or the fort.  To make matters worse, a bitter, slanderous diatribe against their order had been distributed among the inhabitants, and the doors of Catholics and Huguenots alike were closed against them.  Prisoners on the ship, at the very gate of the promised land, no course seemed open to them but to return on the same vessel to France.  But they were suddenly lifted by kindly hands from the depths of despair.  A boat rowed by men attached to the Recollets approached their vessel.  Soon several friars dressed in coarse grey robes, with the knotted cord of the Recollet order about their waists, peaked hood hanging from their shoulders, and coarse wooden sandals on their feet, stood before them on the deck, giving them a wholehearted welcome and offering them a home, with the use of half the buildings and land on the St Charles.  Right gladly the Jesuits accepted the offer and were rowed ashore in the boat of the generous friars.  On touching the soil of New France they fell on their knees and kissed the ground, in spite of the scowling traders about them.

The disappointment of these aggressive pioneers of the Church must have been great as they viewed Quebec.  It was now seventeen years since the colony had been founded; yet it had fewer than one hundred inhabitants.  In the whole of Canada there were but seven French families and only six white children.  Save by Louis Hebert, the first to cultivate the soil at Quebec, and the Recollets, no attempt had been made at agriculture, and the colony was almost wholly dependent on France for its subsistence.  When not engaged in gathering furs or loading and unloading vessels, the men lounged in indolence about the trading-posts or wandered to the hunting grounds of the Indians, where they lived in squalor and vice.  The avarice of the traders was bearing its natural fruit, and the untiring efforts of Champlain, a devoted, zealous patriot, had been unavailing to counteract it.  The colony sorely

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The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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